Robert Atha emerges from the cooling room - holding a shiny, red apple - and pulls a pen knife from his pocket.
"I'm going to cut one of these up," he said Saturday afternoon. "This is a good one."
Running Appleberry Farm with his wife Donna, Atha started the family-owned orchard in 1982 after retiring from the Iowa Veterans Home, allowing visitors to pick their fruit of choice from bountiful trees.
And nibbled cores were a common sight between the rows.
"We like to grow things - it's a challenge and it keeps us busy," he said with a laugh. "It's our retirement, but we work awfully hard to be retired."
Within their Country Shop are warm offerings that blend old and new - from antiques and just-made jams to cider and dried flowers.
T-R PHOTO BY TAMMY R. LAWSON
'I'm trying to get a nice one,' says Robert Atha a.k.a. Apple Bob, owner of Appleberry Farm, in Marshalltown. 'Someone out there wants an apple!'
The aroma of freshly-dipped caramel apples is very apparent while wandering from one room to another.
"Yeah, they're really tasty," Atha said. "It's wonderful to see people come out and enjoy good food."
Among the fields, apples hang barely within reach - Cortland, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonathon, University, Honeycrisp, Wealthy and Chieftain, a cross between a Jonathon and Delicious, developed at Iowa State University.
There are also pumpkins scattered about the acreage, as well as various garden vegetables, and at 2402 W. Main St., Appleberry Farm will be open 8 am to 6 pm daily until November.
"I used to work with Bob years ago and I always wanted to come here, so today was the day," said Des Moines' Nola Penland, holding the remains of what used to be. "And my apple is perfect."
Contact Tammy R. Lawson at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org